Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gold Prices are a Sign of Nothing

Jim Cramer said today on "Stop Trading" that Gold Prices are a Sign of "Robust" Economic Growth.

I have several objections to this.

First: there are no signs of economic growth. Things are getting worse slower, that's all recovery I see so far. Potential headwinds are strong, including the most dangerous, deflation, which is almost forgotten among the noise about coming hyperinflation. I don't know when higher inflation is coming (hope soon!), but so far we have deflation, plain and simple.

Second: gold is a security investment. Higher prices of gold mean that people afraid of something and buy the most reliable (from their point of view) form of money storage. Or maybe traders anticipate such behavior of people and try to front run the trend.

Third: industrial demand for gold is a very small part of gold demand. Most of the gold is consumed as investment (hoarding) or as jewelry. And significant part of gold which is counted as jewelry is actually bought as investment. Especially in Asia. But currently jewelry demand for gold is down, in some months it's negative (people sell more gold as scrap than buy). And the biggest importer of gold, India, reduced imports this year at least by 50%. Which means that quoted price of gold is actually price of futures and has little relation to supply/demand of physical gold.

Growing price of gold means only one thing: there is a change of supply/demand balance of gold futures. For investors not related to gold trade, it means nothing.

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